French is intimidating. I get it.
It is my native language, and even I have a hard time sometimes. Especially when it comes to grammar.
But, as a traveler to another, let me tell you something.
You don’t need to know much French to travel in France, but you need to know a bit.
Outside of Paris (and even then), you’ll have a hard time finding someone to speak English to.
It can even be the case in hotel and other (supposedly) tourist friendly places.
Yeah, it’s a bummer, but I’m working on it.
(I’m teaching English to a few French people at a time, bah)
Although, to make yourself understood you don’t need to know much.
Xim’s article covers the basics. And I’m going to be even more concise.
The very essentials
Keep in mind that French people are very into politeness. IT IS A THING.
Don’t expect to have an outstanding service if you haven’t greeted your waiter properly.
So please, if anything else, learn:
A few sentence structures
Then, here’s my biggest tip. Learn a few sentence structures that you can modify with the vocabulary you already know.
Hell, it doesn’t even matter if it’s grammatically correct. What matters here is that you makes your intention clear
Est-ce-que… (to ask a closed question - answer is yes or no)
Où est… (to ask where something/someone is)
Je voudrais… (I would like)
With those three structures, you’re set for LOADS of fun already.
Then it’s simple a matter of vocabulary.
HOT EXTRA TIP - Only learn the vocabulary you need. Are you going to buy a stamp? Or rent a car?
By far, the benefits of speaking a broken French outweigh the benefits of not speaking French at all.
I don’t know about you, but I’m far more receptive to people when they are making an effort to talk to me in my native language.
Because, THEY ARE MAKING THE EFFORT.
And I’m not thinking less of them if they don’t know how the French Subjonctif works.